After every DanceBlue dance marathon I’ve participated in, I’ve heard the words “DanceBlue never stops”. In both the recent years I’ve spent as a part of DanceBlue and before then, I’ve seen this statement proven to be true over and over again.
While in utero, I was diagnosed with a tumor on my kidney. Three days after I was born in Tallahassee, Florida, I was rushed to the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville so that the tumor and my entire left kidney could be taken out. The surgery was successful, I was healthy, and I only had to return to Shands for routine checkups. In seventh grade, however, I was playing in a basketball tournament and I fell and hit my knee on the ground. The bruise that developed felt unusually hard underneath the skin. This turned out to be because of a bone tumor. I returned to Shands once again and got the tumor removed. Since that surgery, I have been healthy with no more complications. My health issues were the first time that I realized that organizations like DanceBlue don’t stop. The Shands Children’s Hospital is largely supported by Dance Marathon at the University of Florida. I saw firsthand that dance marathons have the power to go beyond the students that raise the money to ensure that the children and families battling maybe the scariest thing they’ve ever faced have a welcoming environment of continued support at all times.
My sophomore year of high school, a dance marathon was started that would contribute to Shands. As a result, I knew I needed to get involved. I was a photographer for our first marathon, a member of Morale Committee for our second, and on the Executive Board as the Marathon Events Chair for our third. After seeing the immense impact that a small group of students could have, my passion for being For The Kids was born. I once again saw that organizations like DanceBlue don’t stop. The students that make up these organizations realize that being For The Kids is not seasonal. It is a mindset you embody, a family you support, and a goal you work towards daily.
In deciding where to attend college, being a part of a dance marathon was a huge contributing factor. After hearing about the work of DanceBlue and loving the UK campus, I knew that the University of Kentucky was the right place for me. I danced on Kappa Delta’s team my freshman year, joined Programming Committee my sophomore year, served on the Marketing Committee as Public Relations Coordinator last year, and am so blessed to have the opportunity to serve as the Marketing Chair for DanceBlue 2021 this upcoming year. DanceBlue has been one of the best things I have ever been a part of. It has allowed me to grow my passion of being For The Kids while gaining experience in my other passions of planning, communication, and marketing. It has given me an amazing family. It has shown me the hope that a group of hard-working students can instill in thousands. It has provided insight into an ongoing, ever-growing movement that will not cease until cancer is eradicated.
As the amazing DanceBlue Founder Jennifer Mynear said recently, “Different is the new normal, but caring never changes”. DanceBlue has not stopped because cancer has not stopped. As soon as one marathon is over, planning for the next marathon starts. There isn’t a break because these children facing a horrible, nasty disease don’t get a break. In the midst of a global pandemic, our continuity is even more vital. The children we serve are a part of the immunocompromised population because of the treatment they receive. The world may be changing around us, but we can’t lose sight of the purpose of DanceBlue. Just because students aren’t on campus or there are scary things happening in the world, we can’t stop working towards our goals. We stay For The Kids and we’re not stopping anytime soon.